back to article PARIS joins the 17-mile-high club

Well, beloved readers, it's almost time to put PARIS to bed, but before the cocoa and slippers we'd like to share a few aerial photos from our audacious, and ultimately triumphant, space plane project. Those of you who've been following from the start (and if you haven't, check previous PARIS posts for details) will recall …


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  1. LuMan


    That is all.

  2. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    One Word...


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Pics. . .

    . . . are fucking brilliant! \o/

    Well done to all concerned.

  4. Andrew Oakley
    Thumb Up


    Just superb. A bunch of tech journos and backroom geeks put a paper aeroplane into space. That's an outstanding achievement, and all the better for being almost entirely pointless; it's great to do something this significant just for the fun of it.

    For further reading into the field of boffinry and half-arsed over-achievement, take a gander at "Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin" by Francis Spufford.

    1. Nick G

      Yes indeedy do...

      "Just superb. A bunch of tech journos and backroom geeks put a paper aeroplane into space. That's an outstanding achievement, and all the better for being almost entirely pointless; it's great to do something this significant just for the fun of it."

      Hear! Hear!

  5. Wize

    These guys are an insperation to us all

    I want to go play and get paid for it.

    Well done guys, you are motivating the experimenter in us all.

  6. Anonymous John

    You don't know what you've started.

    "When space shuttle Discovery lifts off on its final mission, it will have a small LEGO version of itself onboard to help launch a new partnership between the Denmark-based toy company and NASA."

    The launch has been delayed to at least Monday, due to a hydrogen leak in ground equipment.

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      Hydrogen leak?

      Put that cigar out Jose Manuel - it's not helium this time.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Or Encore! Encore! as LewisPage-types will have to learn to say in future...

    Now what's the truth about an Australian version of PARIS being tested with an A380 engine?

    Wonderful stuff guys - and PARIS, thanks a lot for the enjoyment you've given us.

    1. kneedragon


      Being the big PARIS and elReg fan I am, it would be unsporting of me to point out that the Qantas engines which are failing, were made by Rolls Royce, so I won't mention it.

    2. kneedragon


      No, that is incorrect. We'd like our PARIS to work at least as well as yours.

  8. Number6

    Well Done

    Can I come play with the ground crew next time? Looks to be much fun and some good pictures.

    Perhaps next time you could ask the camera manufacturers if they're willing to help out with gadget donation now you've had the first success.

  9. Tim Bergel
    Thumb Up

    Wonderful stuff ...

    ... indeed and thanks for all the fun. Looking forwards to LOHAN

  10. adrian lynch
    Thumb Up

    brilliant work

    But I almost lost my lunch while looking at the descent vid. I'm glad it all worked out so well.

  11. Mike Hunt 1

    Red Arrows

    Nice pics of PARIS with the Red Arrows as well (and ones you can publish too !!)


  12. DZ-Jay

    Brilliant! Fscking Brilliant!

    What can I say? I've been following this project from its inception, and it's just been fantastical fun. Congratulations all around to Lester and the PARIS crew for such an amazingly accomplished, yet inspiringly pointless, endeavor!

    I can't wait for PARIS II, A.K.A. LOHAN.

    Cheers, from the backwaters of America!


  13. Blofeld's Cat

    You do realise that...

    You are all gloriously barking mad..

    An absolutely fantastic achievement in the fine tradition of string, sealing-wax and seat-of-the -pants flying.

    To quote Rick Blaine: "We'll always have PARIS".

  14. Cliff

    It's LOHAN time!

    I've loved this project - pointless boffinry for its own sake - thank you for putting the Great back in Britain.

    Now, project LOHAN - we still need a backronym, but how about starting with 'Low Orbit...' - I can't wait!!

    1. Nick Goldman

      Congratulations, and looking forward to LOHAN

      "Low Orbit High Atmosphere ..." something?

      Brilliant project, hope you do it again. Nick Goldman

      1. Joe H.

        Low Orbit High Above Netherlands

        Netherlands, a place to get high?

  15. Lottie

    One in the eye

    So chuffed that you have pictures of the plane gliding and not plummeting.

    Well done to all of you!

  16. blackworx
    Thumb Up


    Am I correct in thinking the wing puncture is already evident in this pic? If so could it not have been created by some passing space dust/micrometeorite during the final part of the ascent?

    Re: the published comment on p10 - I couldn't have put it better in a million years. Legendary achievement guys.

    And, in the internet vernacular, to the sour-grapes detractors: lol why u mad tho?

    1. Notas Badoff

      'Twas the...


      Paris was getting too close for comfort and might've snapped their unearthly 'equipment'. So 'twas pop the balloon time, and the shot went through the wing too.

    2. Stoneshop


      Yes, that looks like the wing damage. And judging from its shape (detailed pic in the landing/recovery story), with two more or less straight edges at right angles, I'd say the wing hit one of the corners of the payload box. Supporting evidence is that it's the port wing, which can be seen tilting up on the release video.

  17. EddieD

    I've said it before

    You're all stark raving bonkers.

    Inspiring, amusing, interesting, engaging, technically awesome, as well.

    But still stark, raving bonkers.

    Keep it up guys - we need things like this

    <---- Have several - I wish I could buy a round (at least) for all of you

  18. Bilgepipe
    Thumb Up


    This entire project is made of awesome.

  19. Giddy Kipper
    Thumb Up


    'nuff said

  20. Spider
    Thumb Up

    Not often I am moved to comment...

    ..but Bravo Zulu to all concerned. You have not only succeded in putting a gloriously pointless paper aircraft into space and retrieving fantastic pics, but making many of us in not quite so fun employment smile on an otherwise cheerless day.

    Now how to incorporate the plasma drive and obtain more fizzypop funded high-jinks?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To boldly go where no playmobil has gone before

    Really, this is a step forward that should make all Playmobil proud regardless of race, religion or factory of origin. Keep it going, please.

    Breathtaking pictures. Next step should be LOHAN - low orbit, high altitude nonsense?

  22. Parax
    Paris Hilton

    Lego Space Shuttle - Hmm those letters work!

    Lego Orbiter High Altitude iNsertion.

    Blasting a Lego Space Shuttle Into space it is then....

    New Icon Please!

  23. rickyjames

    LOHAN - Lithium Overhead Haze At Night

    Absolutely stunning project, gents, congrats congrats congrats. Now that you've done an airplane from space, naturally it is time to move on to a UFO. Seriously. Your next project is obviously LOHAN - Lithium Overhead Haze At Night. A few links to get you started...

    Obviously your next balloon can only get to a tenth of the altitude of these sounding rockets, but if you time the flight to sunset when the ground is dark and the sun is still above the horizon as seen from the balloon, who might have quite a show from the ground...

    In any event, jolly good show on PARIS!

    1. rickyjames

      Further LOHAN Details

      Huh - the more I research LOHAN (Lithium Overhead Haze At Night), the less nutty it sounds. If you dump a lithium aerosol into the atmosphere at too low an altitude, there will be so much air between the sun and the lithium atoms that the ionization rate (and thus the pretty red glow) would be pretty small. That's why these experiments are done with sounding rockets above just about all of the air, so the lithium atoms get a blast of pure, undiluted sunshine.

      The Russians have this all figured out, see Section 2.3.2 on page 178 of this Googlebook version of "Airglow as an Indicator of Upper Atmospheric Structure and Dynamics" By Vladislav Yu Khomich, Anatoly I. Semenov, Nicolay N. Shefov:

      However, by an interesting coincidence lithium aerosols are ionized at exactly the wavelength of red laser diode chips (at least some of the earlier types of laser diode chips) at exactly 670 nm. See Table 2-20 in the book above and also Sam's Laser FAQ:

      This implies that you could come up with a lithium fog machine that has battery-powered red laser diodes in the outlet nozzle and if everything is sized right you could achieve near 100% ionization of the ejected fog via the laser beam. Basically you could skywrite with a glowing red gas visible for tens to hundreds of miles.

      Maybe worth a test or two with a lithium smoke grenade and a high powered laser diode in a low pressure chamber. Everybody has all of that kit laying around in their kitchen, no?

  24. Andrew Newstead

    Another awesome!

    'cos that's the only thing I can think of saying.

    Those pictures of the limb of the Earth are just inspiring, well done guys.

    I don't know what LOHAN will be or have any suggestion for it but I do know that I will be following it from the begining gentlemen.

  25. DI_Wyman
    Thumb Up


    ......big round of applause for the PARIS team!

    A well done with big shiny irreverence knobs!

  26. Bryn Evans

    Save for posterity !

    Please pass the plane (and Pilot) to the Science Museum, so the visiting school kids

    can see what can be done with glue and paper - driven by a mad idea,

    Next mad idea ? A solar powered paper railway engine, of any size, to balance and run

    on one rail of a main line track.

    1. Sadie


      There was such an idea!

      1. Peter Ford

        Talking of gyros

        Is there spare capacity in the PARIS payload box for a stabilising gyro?

        That might have cut the mad spinning on launch, and improved the pictures...

  27. Johnny Canuck


    Low Orbit High Altitude Nacelle.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


      Low Orbit High Altitude Necklace?

      Pearl, of course...

  28. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    I can't speak for anyone else...

    ...but the thing that jumps out for me are the space pics. The individuals involved - and Lester perhaps more than anyone - will have a merry /hell/ of a thing to tell their grandchildren. "Kids, I once built a paper airplane that flew high enough to /prove the curvature of the earth./"

    Think about this. A few hundred years ago, we would have either had use complex mathematics or actually physically sailed around the world to prove it was round. Now a couple of journalists with the dedication to see a hobby through can build a device capable of proving it with pictures from 17 miles up. I think it's awesome. It’s a beautiful reminder that most of the crap we worry ourselves about every day really isn’t as insurmountable as it appears.

    “Here is what people can do – for real and with few resources – if they put their mind to it. Here is what a few months of a hobby can accomplish!” It is a reminder of what human beings are capable of. As per the title, I can’t speak for anyone else…

    …but it has been an honest inspiration to me.

    If you spend enough time on the internet you are often surrounded by people who seem to believe that computers and related technologies are the only things in the world that matter. It’s easy to believe that being a tinkerer and putterer of all things – computers and otherwise – will never amount to anything. Way to prove that concept very wrong!

    Thanks for the excellent journey, PARIS team. Looking forward to LOHAN with much anticipation!

  29. Baskitcaise
    Thumb Up

    Great stuff!

    Also if you so the cross-eyed trick on some of the postcard images you can get a reasonable pseudo 3D view.

    1. Goat Jam


      Can I have some of whatever it is you are smokin?

      Great stuff indeed

  30. Tom Kelsall
    Thumb Up

    Really love this! Do it again!

    It would be awesome to have a stabilising parachute between the main payload and the balloon, to stabilise it after the balloon goes...

    But WOW what a.... THING!!! Great project, totally well done all.

  31. Woodgie

    Just all kinds of Awesome

    Genuinely inspirational. All you appear to need is the enthusiasm of a kid and a willingness to just get on and do it.

    Just get on and do it. Not listen to people who say stuff is hard.

    The photos and footage are spectacular too.

    Thank you.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely LOHAN

    Should be a paper submarine, plumbing new depths like its namesake?

  33. chrisjw37

    Nice clouds

    Excellent work

    could you repeat it on a cloudless summers day please?

  34. Adrian Esdaile

    Pints all round then!

    I'd buy, but I'm on the other side of the planet.

    Somebody please, PLEASE post a photo of the intrepid Playmonaut fully immersed in a pint of ale - he deserves it!

  35. slack
    Thumb Up

    The right stuff

    Heartiest congratulations to all involved in this super project.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Awesome - and what of the Playmobilnaut

    The brave toy who mounted PARIS and took her to heaven and back hasn't yet been seen in public. Surely there's a juicy kiss and tell story to be told?

    More seriously, if you're not appallingly attached to the little piece of plastic - how about running a fund-raising competition - say a tenner a ticket - to win the pilot. All money to the charity (preferably registered) of your choice or to the LOHAN construction project.

  37. YARR
    Thumb Up

    Why Spain?

    For the benefit of those of us who haven't been following this from the beginning, what was the reasoning behind the choice of launch site? Was it the nearest place you could get permission to launch due to the proximity to air traffic flight paths?

  38. Spanners Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Absolutely Geektastic!

    Congratulations all round for doing something so pointlessly splendid!

    LOHAN - Light Observation High Altitude Node. Get a webcam in it!

  39. Johnny Canuck
    Thumb Up


    I notice several of the pictures seem to show a glimpse of a large body of water through the clouds. Is that the Mediterranean or the Atlantic? Any way to tell which direction the camera is pointing?

    1. Stoneshop


      "Is that the Mediterranean or the Atlantic?"


  40. hikaricore

    The title of this article was misleading.

    Nude pics or gtfo.

  41. Rob


    ... love you guys :)

  42. SteveD
    Paris Hilton


    Got approached by a chap in the pub last night, who said I was part of NASA I was going to correct him until he added Nerds Above Spanish Airspace

    1. Joe H.
      Thumb Up


      Awesome, that is all....

  43. Joe H.

    Just had another look here and...

    "white knuckle ride for the main payload box:"

    Shirley you meant "white knuckle ride for Paris' main payload box"?

    Sticks with the format better, 'eh wot?

  44. Witty username
    Thumb Up


    if you'll excuse my french, is fucking awesome.

    well done guys :D

  45. codemonkey
    Thumb Up

    Result :)


  46. Mystic Megabyte


    Firstly, mucho congrats and hugs for all involved.

    For your next mission how about HERB PARIS?

    Help Eject Richard Branson Permanently Aboard Rocket Into Space

    It just needs to go up and stay up :)

    Herb Paris: "European herb with yellow-green flowers resembling and closely related to the trilliums; reputed to be poisonous"

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Historical event demands reproduction!

    This historical event deserves more than your so-called journalistic coverage. I, for one, will not believe it until I see a Playmobil recreation!

  48. David Robinson 2

    Where are they?

    I can only join in the congratulations on a magnificent effort. Did anyone else notice something missing? Where was the red/gold glow of all these Co2 molecules that are supposed to be up there heating up the earth? The camera shots were great ...but no glow.

    This was not altogether surprising as a balloon camera expert got none either recently, although many of the shots should have shewn them up.

    Cant wait for the next expedition.


  49. James Pickett

    Next trip

    Well done, chaps. The albedo effect of those clouds looks quite significant - can it be that they help keep us cool? Next time, if the scale allows, perhaps you could send a climatologist...

  50. Chris Fleming


    Great Job. Have been following this from the start...

    Chris in Samoa (not quite a remote as space, but damn close)

  51. John Robson Silver badge


    I hope Lindsey has a camera in the plane as well though ;)

  52. Bob Foster
    Thumb Up

    Very well done chaps!

    Congratulations to everyone concerned!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Come on now and fess up nicely

    I call upon El Reg to admit that the whole PARIS space shot was faked.

    You can tell by the shadows, they're all wrong.

  54. Tim Ardizzone

    Amazing Pictures

    Excellent work Lester! Good to see yours truly on BBC News24 this lunchtime too.

  55. Bob L'Eponge

    17 miles up is just the stratosphere not space really

    Sorry to be such a killjoy, but 17 miles up is not really "space" is it? More like the stratosphere. Noctilucent clouds are found up to 50 miles I believe. Are they in space? And how would a helium balloon get above the atmosphere anyway? One compensation is that both "space" and "stratophere" begin with "S" so a more accurate description of the project could still use the PARIS acronym.

    Bah humbug! Bob.

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